Border officers couldn’t have legally arrested Huawei exec Meng Wanzhou: Crown

Chinese tech giant’s chief financial officer was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States

Border guards could not have legally arrested Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou at Vancouver’s airport last December, says a lawyer representing the Canadian government.

Meng’s lawyers argue that officers with the Canada Border Services Agency should have immediately executed a provisional arrest warrant instead of questioning her for three hours before the RCMP arrested her.

The Chinese tech giant’s chief financial officer was arrested Dec. 1, 2018, at the request of the United States, which is seeking her extradition on fraud charges linked to the alleged violation of sanctions against Iran.

Crown prosecutor Diba Majzub told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday that border officers are required by law to conduct an admissibility examination on all travellers entering Canada.

He said they aren’t legally empowered to arrest people under the Extradition Act and the Crown has provided 150 examples of cases in which border officers were involved but were not the ones to execute such warrants.

The RCMP Act specifically gives the Mounties the power to execute all warrants, Majzub added.

ALSO READ: Nothing ‘sinister’ about airport questioning of Huawei exec, Crown argues

Meng’s arrest has sparked a diplomatic crisis between Canada and China. She denies any wrongdoing and her lawyers are in court seeking further documents ahead of her extradition trial in January.

Her lawyers allege that border officers, the RCMP and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conspired to conduct a “covert criminal investigation” at the airport and they’re requesting documents that they believe would back up that claim.

The defence has described communications between the three agencies on the day before Meng’s arrest as improper and alleged border guards violated her charter rights when they seized her electronic devices.

Majzub said the FBI notified Canada’s border agency on Nov. 30, 2018, that a person who was subject to a provisional arrest warrant might be coming through Vancouver’s airport.

The case law demonstrates that the FBI’s advisory was legitimate and necessary for Canada to enforce its border, he said.

“Is it evidence of an ulterior motive, an abuse of process, or is it in fact, normal conduct that (allows) the CBSA to do its job?” Majzub asked.

He also argued that there is a legal line between a customs and immigration examination and an investigation of a criminal offence in Canada. Before that line is reached, charter rights are not engaged, he said.

“There was never a danger of that line being crossed,” Majzub said. “There was no criminal investigation in Canada. They’re entitled to go as far as they need to determine whether she’s admissible to Canada.”

Border guards are entitled to examine a traveller’s goods, and that has been legally interpreted to include electronic devices, he said. CBSA officers seized her devices and obtained the passcodes before passing them on to the RCMP.

The Crown has said that neither border officers nor police searched her devices and since the FBI has said it doesn’t require them, Canada has been trying for the past two months to return them to Meng.

The defence has argued that border guards seized the devices and questioned Meng about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in order to further the U.S. case against her.

However, Majzub said border guards went as far as they did because they had legitimate concerns about possible criminality and national security.

If they had deemed her inadmissible to Canada, it’s unlikely that she would have been ordered to immediately return to China, and the RCMP could have executed the warrant while she was in detention or awaiting a hearing, he said.

The defence has noted that border guards did not actually complete their examination of Meng and instead suspended the process, at which point police executed the warrant.

Meng, who is also the daughter of Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, is free on bail and living in her multi-million dollar home in Vancouver while she awaits her trial.

The U.S. alleges she lied to HSBC about Huawei’s business dealings in Iran, putting the company at risk of prosecution for violating sanctions.

Laura Kane, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

Alberni Valley, West Coast First Nations gather to remember woman fatally shot by police

Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council requests an independent investigation

Kitchen fire sends one to hospital in Port Alberni

Apartment block evacuated after sprinkler system was set off

Qualicum Beach man arrested over racist incident at Tseshaht First Nation

Port Alberni RCMP said the man turned himself in

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman, 26, fatally shot by police in Edmundston, N.B.

Police were conducting a well-being check at the time of the incident

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

An ongoing updated list of Alberni Valley events affected by COVID-19

Has your event been cancelled or postponed? Check here

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read